English's millionth word?
A Harvard-trained executive and language lover, president of the Global Language Monitor, has some predictions about English.
The English language had precisely 986,120 words at the time of this interview, Paul Payack said. And it should incorporate its millionth word sometime in June. (The OED, in contrast, includes about 600,000 words.)
What are his qualifications to make such predictions? Nil, it seems. Linguists say he's full of it.
Mr. Payack's word count is hotly disputed by linguists, who cannot even agree on what a word is, much less count them. Are IBM and CNN words? Are color and colour two words, or one? What about Latin scientific words, or the million words for species of plants and insects?Payack would say yes. He also counts text messaging shorthand as new words (I CN for I can). And he has people sending in entries from around the globe (drinktea, for what a Chinese shopkeeper puts on the door to explain why he's closed for business, or fundoo, an English word for cool among Hindi speakers).
The story also includes some fun facts:
50,000 to 60,000
Number of words in Old English
20,000 to 24,000
Number of words found in the complete works of Shakespeare
Number of words Shakespeare invented
Approximate number of words in the vocabulary of a baby aged 18 to 24 months
10,000 to 50,000
Estimated number of words in the vocabulary of an average adult
Number of words an educated adult understands but doesn't actively use